Tuesday, January 15, 2019

How to avoid fear of death.

Jesus came to "free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death."  (Hebrews 2: 15).

My friends, are you terrified of dying? Of being suddenly snuffed out of existence and disappearing forever?  The word we share today is your Good News.

It is God's plan that Jesus Christ be like us in everything but sin;  that He suffers and dies so that "he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil."  Jesus broke the power of death by rising from the dead on the third day.  He shows that we too must die but shall rise again.  Dying and rising is what we sacramentally experience when we are baptized.  We die when we are immersed into water. We rise from death when we are raised up again.

As a result of the power of this Sacrament, our faith and the word of God, every Christian should have no fear of death.

It is not only the fear of death that the devil causes us. He makes us to have unhealthy fears of poverty, ill health, etc. To overcome these fears, we have to die to money and worship of good health.
Remember Jesus in His Temptation in the Desert?  He looked the devil in the eye and told him: "Man does not live on bread alone." (Matthew 4: 4). Man does not live on money alone. Man does not live on good health alone.
If you are able to do this, you will experience peace and freedom.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Jesus is still teaching with authority.

“What is this? A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

The people of Nazareth noticed something peculiar about Jesus the first time He walked into the synagogue.  But after reading and interpreting Isaiah's prophecy on the Messiah, Scripture records that their eyes were transfixed on Him.

On another Sabbath, Jesus "entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes."  (Mark 1: 21 - 22).

Jesus taught with the authority of Moses and all the prophets combined plus something different: "A new teaching with authority."  (Mark 1: 27).

After His Resurrection, He breathed on His Apostles and imparted them the Holy Spirit. Then before He ascended into Heaven, He gave them the authority to go to all the world and teach and evangelize all people.  This authority has been exercised by the Sacred Magisterium of the Church from the very beginning to today.

The Church exists to evangelize. Are you part of this effort?

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Will you follow me and become a fisher of men?

“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Mark 1: 17).

These are the words of Jesus the Fisher of men to new recruits Simon and Andrew.  What I love most about this incident is this:
"Then they abandoned their nets and followed him."  (Mark 1: 18).  Do you notice the immediacy of the response? God loves the cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9: 7).  Social psychologists teach that spontaneity and immediacy of response point to a good finish.  Remember a young Virgin called Mary? "Yes I will. Let it be done to me according to your words."  She too left everything and embraced her mission.

Jesus is still passing by. He is still calling. He has tremendous good news to share. For example:

"I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10: 10).

Will you too be a fisher of men?

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

The world is in dire need of revival.

"John said: One mightier than I is coming; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."  (Luke 3: 16).

Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas Season.

Jesus will baptize us with Holy Spirit and fire. What an amazing promise.  Are you ready?  “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!"  (Luke 12: 49).

The Journey to the Promised Land was not a straight road. There were many bends, curves and detours. So is our personal Journey of Faith. From the arrival in the Promised Land to the Coming of Jesus Christ more bends, curves and detours for the chosen people.  From Pentecost to the Second Vatican Council, more curves, detours and bends for Christians. The Genealogy of Jesus Christ teaches us that God's loving and all powerful Providence anticipates all these.  He built in correctives and resets into the march of the world to Kingdom of God.

Friends, to make a long story short, the world is in dire need of reset. Yes. Of Revival. The Holy Spirit is the Principal Agent for this great Revival.  Are you ready to be baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire?

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Can you let Jesus increase a little bit in you?

"He [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease.”  (John 3: 30).

John the Baptist at the end of his ministry says Jesus's elevation has made his joy complete. (John 3: 29).
With this parting gift of heavenly wisdom, he left a great legacy for the Church.
Yes, Jesus must increase. We must decrease.

But how?

"I let go of my desire for security." 
"I let go of my desire for affection ."
"I let go of my desire for control ."
"I let go of my desire to change the situation ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect health ."
"I let go of my desire for perfect family harmony ."
"I let go of my desire for the perfect job."

I let go and let Jesus use me as He wishes.

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Jesus can not resist trust in Jesus!

‘Sir,’ he [man full of leprosy] said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ (Luke 5:  12 ).

And the leprosy left him at once.

Dear friends, what is the one thing that melts the Heart of Jesus? Simple and full trust in Jesus.! That's it.  Serving in soup kitchens is great. Flying about in all parish ministries is good work.  But if you have not figured out how to increase your trust in Jesus, you are a non starter and may be missing a lot in this side of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus caused this words to be written in His Divine Mercy picture:
JESUS I TRUST IN YOU.
Jesus can never resist trust in Jesus.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

There is no fear in love.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4: 18).

We are talking here not of our love for God. For example: "Thou shall the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy mind and all thy will."  We are talking about God's love for us that never changes, never fails. This is such a radical concept that if you can become aware of how much God loves you, the knowledge and trust in God’s love for you will transform your life beyond widest expectation.

How do you become aware of how much God loves you? How do you become aware of how much your wife, father, friend loves you?  You match up the person's behavior towards you with your concept of love. For example:

This is how God loves you and me:
God is patient; God is kind. God is not jealous, nor is He pompous, or inflated.  He is never rude nor seeks His own interests. He is never quick-tempered nor broods over our sins.  He does not rejoice over our wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth and our success.  He is longsuffering and merciful to the extreme. (Adapted from 1 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 7).

To own this truth, you repeat the above every day until it becomes yours. The result is unbelievable. You come to believe that God loves you and is with you every single moment everywhere. And you know that this God is in control of every situation.

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Monday, January 07, 2019

If God is love, who are we?

"God is love."  (1 John 4: 8).

My friends, what does it mean to say that God is love? It is like saying "The sun is shining. There is light."  Of course there will be light if the sun is shining.  God's love suffuses everything. It penetrates all His creation. Genesis teaches us that after God created the world, He reviewed the work of His hand and sees that it is good and He loves it.

Original Sin damaged our ability to love and receive love.
We needed a re-education in other to understand love from God's perspective. This is how God loves you and me:

God is patient; God is kind. God is not jealous, nor is He pompous, or inflated.  He is never rude nor seeks His own interests. He is never quick-tempered nor broods over our sins.  He does not rejoice over our wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth and our success.  He is longsuffering and merciful to the extreme. (Adapted from 1 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 7).

"In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins." (1 John 4: 10).

Without the Spirit of Love living and working in us, we may never be able to overcome the effects of Original Sin working against love.

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Sunday, January 06, 2019

What happens when we abide in the will of God.

"Beloved, We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him."  (1 John 3: 22).

Friends, Scripture promises that when we keep God's commandments and do what pleases Him, we receive from Him what we need.  It is not the will of God to deprive us of the necessities of life.  Man does not live on bread alone.  Neither does he live on money alone. Man needs good health, family peace and prosperity. Man needs good job and tools and possessions. We need food all the time.  Who can live without peace of mind and soul? Finally, we are constantly preoccupied with thoughts of the future as we move from one lifecycle to another.

Today's message from 1 John should bring us great comfort.
"Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us."  (1 John 3: 24).
Friends, do you know for certain that the Holy Spirit remains in you?  Without the Holy Spirit, you cannot live effectively the Christian life and you cannot enjoy the privileges promised the children of God.

"You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, [the world] for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."  (1 John 4: 4).

We are engaged in a life and death struggle with the spirit of this world.  Are you gaining victory war zone by war zone: family, finances, job, health, etc. Are you winning sector by sector: workplace, home, church, etc.

"We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us,
 while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit."  (1 John 4: 6).

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Saturday, January 05, 2019

The Magi saw and believed.

"We [The Magi] saw the star at its rising and have come to do him homage."  (Matthew 2: 2).

Today is the Solemnity of the the Epiphany.  The star called forth the three Wise Men from the East to follow the star and they found and recognized the infant Jesus as Son of God and King of the Universe.  Every day, the star of freedom beckons men and women from everywhere to America, God's own country to their idea of paradise.

Where is your star pointing to?  Is it pointing to the Child Jesus born in poverty in a stable? Or is it pointing to “Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth.” (Revelation 17: 5).

"They [Magi] were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother." 
(Matthew 2: 10 - 11).

Consider this for a moment: These 3 kings and scientists were able to recognize the Infant Jesus in such an unlikely environment.  How could this be when 2000 years after His birth, not everyone on earth has bent the knee at the Name of Jesus?

You that acknowledge Jesus as Lord and King, follow the example of the Magi:
"They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2: 11).

"Lord, every nation on earth will adore you."  (Cf Psalm 72).

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Friday, January 04, 2019

The Lord is my allotted portion and my cup.

"O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.  For me the measuring lines have fallen on pleasant sites; fair to me indeed is my inheritance."  (Psalm 16 :5 - 6: Entrance Antiphon).

There are Scriptures that affirm who you are.  They bring you comfort and encouragement  when you need it most.  I delight to rest in Psalm 16 and savor the sweet sentiment that this Psalm exudes. If the Lord Himself is your allotted portion and cup, it means that you have the best part.  You may not feel that you have the privileged part, but your feelings do not matter at all.

Faith is complete confidence in the word of God, in His promises.  To live by faith is to live by the promises of God and not by the evidence of your senses or feelings.  I am trying to put this teaching into practice daily.  How do I do this? Not by reading books on faith and praxis. But rather, I include in my morning prayer: Lord, grant me the grace to live this day as I believe and as I pray.

I believe in prayer.
I believe in the word of God.
I believe in miracle.
I leave the rest to God.

It is said that prayer is the efficient cause of every comfort in life.  St Augustine puts it this way:
"If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, then all is well."

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Thursday, January 03, 2019

The price of our freedom is huge.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  (John 1: 29).

It is impossible to understand Sin until you sit still and contemplate a life-size Crucifix.  A crucifix is a cross with a corpus (body).  I have often wondered why the Blessed Virgin Mary urges mystics and those who desire to advance in spiritual life to look at the crucifix often. The cross is the means and instrument of our redemption. The sacrifice of a human being who is equally God is how the price of our salvation is paid.

"The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil."  (1 John 3: 8).

What are the works of the devil?

"Now the works of the flesh [devil] are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 19 - 21).

These are works/sins that keep us enslaved, depressed, miserable, unfulfilled.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"  (John 1: 29).

"We have found the Messiah."
(John 1: 41).  Have you?

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus..

January 4, 2019  -  First Friday in January.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 1st  month of the year 2019, we look at Promise #1.

#1.  "I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life."
 
What is your state of life?
A.  Married
B.  Single
C.  Divorced
D.   Adolescent

Each state has its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Jesus promises us here more than sufficient grace to cope with whatever happens.  There can be only one response to this magnanimous offer of Jesus:  Yes and Thank You Jesus!

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  (Philippians 2: 10-11).

Today is the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  Jesus is the name given to our Redeemer before He was born. The name Jeshua in Hebrew means God Saves!  It is a name that is so appropriate for Jesus because He saves everyone who puts his faith in Him.

From the dawn of Christianity, Christians have discovered the mysterious power in the name of Jesus.  They have invoked this name out of love and for protection.  I recently laughed aloud when I was reading a book of Pope Francis and he asked his audience how many times a day they mention the name of Jesus.  When my alarm rings in the morning, the first sound I make is the name of Jesus. And throughout the day over a hundred times.  If you say the Rosary every day, you mention the name of Jesus at least 60 times.

One other thing I would like to say about the name of Jesus is that it is a full prayer. Have you heard about the Jesus Prayer? Packed into that one word is love, joy, adoration, petition, protection and power.

"The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.
To all who received him he gave power to become children of God."  (John 1:14,12).

It is said that the name of Jesus is the sweetest sound in every language.

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Who are you?

“Who are you?”..... “What are you then?.... What do you have to say for yourself?” (John 1: 19, 21, 22).

The priests, levites and Jewish leaders have been watching the ministry of St John the Baptist for a while. At long last, they decided to hear from the horse's mouth the identity of this austere prophet.  John did not beat about the bush:  “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.”  (John 1: 23).

And you? Who are you? What is your purpose on earth? What do you do for the Church of God?  All these are apt questions to reflect on as we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ on January 13th marking the end of the Christmas Season.

We celebrate today, January 2nd, two great Bishops and Doctors of the Church: Saints Basil the Great (329 to 379)and Gregory Nazianzen (329 to 389).  Both men, great friends in this world "proclaimed Christ crucified; Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God." (Cf 1 Corinthians 1: 23 - 24).

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Monday, December 31, 2018

When the fullness of time...

"When the fullness of time had come..... The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger."  (Galatians 4: 4, Luke 2: 16).

Today is January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  God our Father in His mercy begins all good things and brings them to fulfillment. He is pleased to grant us new beginnings in this Year of grace.

"The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!"  in 2019. (Numbers 6: 24 - 26).

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever."  (Hebrews 13: 8).

May God bless us all in 2019 in his mercy.

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

How to be a new person in 2019.

"Children, it is the last hour.........we know this is the last hour."  (1 John 2: 18).

Today indeed is Monday, December 31, 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas.  The beloved Apostle and Evangelist screams in the first Reading: LAST HOUR!

What shall we do? First review 2018 and note carefully the blessings and mercies of God. Then give thanks.
This is the hour that many people fine-tune the New Year Resolution.  I will share with you frankly a very simple and easy to keep resolution that can transform your life and bring you much peace and joy.

#1.  Pray always.
#2.  Pray about everything.
#3.  Pray everywhere.
(Cf Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

The most powerful prayer is just one word: Jesus.

St Augustine teaches:  "If you pray well, you live well. If you live well, you die well. If you die well, all is well."

If you start with prayer, your day will be blessed.  A body in motion continues in motion. (1st law of motion).

"The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us.
To those who accepted him
he gave power to become the children of God."  Jn 1:14, 12).

Be a new creation in 2019!
"Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come."  (2 Corinthians 5: 17).

SeekFirst Community wishes you and your family a 2019 full of faith, peace, patience, kindness and good health and prosperity.
Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

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Saturday, December 29, 2018

Imitating the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

"The shepherds went in haste,
and found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in a manger."  (Luke 2: 16).

Today is the feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

We celebrate the shining example of family peace, love and harmony the last Sunday of the year.  Why do we celebrate this feast? So that we may imitate and practice the virtues of family life so richly portrayed in this family.  We may be sure that this family observes the first rule of family togetherness and charity: "A family that prays together stays together."  Now that you have been reminded of this heavenly wisdom, blessed are you if you do it.

"God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. Whoever honors his father atones for sins, and preserves himself from them."  (Sirach 3: 2).

Blessed is the one who teaches his children this golden rule.

"Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." 
(Colossians 3: 15, 16).

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Good has fulfilled His big Promise.

“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled."  (Luke 2: 29).

Who spoke this famous words which the Church uses in its nightly prayer?  His name is Simeon and his profile by Luke the Evangelist is below:

"Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God."  (Luke 2: 25 - 28).

Simeon is an old prophet who is righteous, devout and had waited for the coming of Christ with unflinching constancy. No wonder he was a good friend of the Holy Spirit who is mentioned 3 times in the short passage above.  Simeon is famous for his accurate prediction of the role of Mary in salvation history:

“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  (Luke 2: 34 - 35).

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple brings together in one holy place important Bible characters: Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Simeon and Anna.
God fulfills His word in His own way and His own time.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Who are the Holy Innocents?

“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”  (Matthew 2: 13).

December 28th is the Feast of the Holy Innocents.  These are about 20 babies whom Herod slaughtered in an effort to kill the the Infant Jesus.

"The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless, they follow the Lamb, and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord."  (Entrance Antiphon).

"[Herod] ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under." (Matthew 2: 16).

Consider this: Even after the heinous infanticide of Herod, God is prepared to forgive him completely if he acknowledged his sin and asked for mercy.
"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing."  (1 John 1: 9).

No sin is too great to be unpardonable.
"But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world." (1 John 2: 1 - 2).

"We praise you, O God,
we acclaim you as Lord;
the white-robed army of martyrs praise you."  (Cf Te Deum).

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.

"This is John, who reclined on the Lord’s breast at supper,
the blessed Apostle, to whom celestial secrets were revealed
and who spread the words of life through all the world."  (Entrance Antiphon).

Today is the feast of St John the Apostle and Evangelist. John penned the 4th Gospel, 3 New Testament letters and the Book of Revelation.

John gives us the eye-witness account of the majestic mystery that is Jesus Christ, the Word of life:

"What was from the beginning,
what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life." (1 John 1: 1).

He waxes stronger: 
"What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." (1 John 1: 3).

Christmas is a good time to commit fully to Jesus Christ so that your fellowship with us will be complete.

SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Feast of St Stephen, the first martyr.

"You will be hated by all because of my name." 
(Matthew 10: 22).

December 26th, a day after Christmas is the feast of St Stephen, the 1st martyr of the Christian Era.

We still have 3 full weeks of the Christmas season. A season of festivities, rich food and choice wines, music and merry making.  Why spoil the fun with a gory story of bloody and cruel killing?  Is it because birth and death are opposite sides of the same coin?  Listen to the Book of Ecclesiastes:
"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die."  (Ecclesiastes 3: 1 - 2).

Jesus Christ promised His followers that "You will be hated by all because of my name."   (Matthew 10: 22).

Stephen was the first disciple to bear witness. The word witness in Greek means martyr.
Who is Stephen?  His profile is Christ-like:
"Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people."  (Acts 6: 8).

He [Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  (Acts 7: 55).

What can we learn from the life of St Stephen?
#1.  There is a price to pay in honest and genuine Christian life.
#2.  Nobody can live this life without the help of the promised Paraclete (Helper).
#3.  Jesus Christ is the "true and faithful witness."  He leads by word and example.  He fulfills every promise He makes.

So do not be afraid....
"When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say."  (Matthew 10: 19).

Jesus Christ will be the rock of refuge, a stronghold to save you.  He will always be your rock and fortress.  Trust in His holy and powerful name. (Cf Psalm 31: 3 - 4).

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy Birthday Jesus!

  “Your God is King!”  (Isaiah 52: 7).

Happy Birthday O Emmanuel! We celebrate today the wondrous mystery of Your Incarnation, God born Man in the tiny village of Bethlehem. You did not disdain to be born of Your Virgin Mother.  You became God-with-us, God-in-us and God-for-us.

My friends, today is the day we have been waiting for.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news,
Announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation." (Isaiah 52: 7).

Now, let us celebrate!
"With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout with joy to the King, the Lord." (Psalm 98: 6).

SeekFirst Community wishes you and your family and friends a very joyful and holy Christmas.  We pray you will receive Jesus, the Child God who is our King with great joy.

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Sunday, December 23, 2018

God will fulfill every promise He makes.

"Behold, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son into the world."
(Cf. Galatians 4: 4).

The Church exalts in the truth of God's faithfulness in the proclaimed word today:
"Behold, everything is fulfilled which the angel promised to the Virgin Mary."  (Antiphon to the Benedictus on the 4th Sunday of Advent).

The 2nd Reading today lists some of the promises of God to King David (2 Samuel 9 - 16).  Behold everything is fulfilled which God promised to David:

"And I will make your name like that of the greatest on earth......
I will not withdraw my favor from him as I withdrew it from Saul who was before you.  Your house and your kingdom are firm forever before me; your throne shall be firmly established forever."  (2 Samuel 9 - 16).

My friends, behold everything will be fulfilled which God promises you.  Let us chant our Yes and Amen and gratitude with the Psalm below:

"The favors of the LORD I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. For you have said, “My kindness is established forever;” in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness."  (Psalm 89: 2 - 3).

This too God has fulfilled.
"Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant."  (Luke 1:  70 - 72).

"O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal ligt, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death."

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Peace our Lord is coming soon.

"He [Jesus] is peace."  (Micah 5: 4).

We are two days away from the solemn festival of Christmas?  Let us pause for a moment and ask ourselves:  Do we really know who we have been preparing to receive?

The Prophet Micah calls Jesus "Peace" in the first Reading. Jesus is not just the Prince of Peace but Peace incarnate.

Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit calls Jesus "my Lord."  Jesus is Lord means literally that Jesus is God.  The Angel Gabriel said to Mary:  "“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."  (Luke 1: 35).

The Lord be with you.
Peace be with you.
The Lord is Peace Himself.

The Child we are expecting in two days will "be ruler in Israel."
He is the King of the Universe and His origin is "from ancient times."  (Micah 1: 1).

"God and Father, you looked in pity on fallen man and redeemed us by the coming of your Son. Grant that we who profess our firm and humble faith in the incarnation of our Redeemer may have some share in his divine life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Nothing is sweeter than the joy of answered prayer.

"I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request."
(1 Samuel 1: 27).

Friends, let me share with you frankly. There is nothing as sweet in religion as the joy of answered prayer.  If you have experienced it, you know what I mean. If not, ask yourself why.  Among my favorite Bible characters, Hannah, the mother of the Prophet Samuel stands close to the front of the line. She is a woman of great faith and power, generosity and humility.  The Evangelist Luke must have been inspired by her personality in crafting the profile of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is not an accident that the two most powerful women in salvation history are featured in today's Mass Readings just 3 days to the Solemnity of Christmas.

Speaking of the radical generosity of Hannah and Mary, read the word below and consider how many women you know who could make such offer to God.  Give away their only son?
"Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord.” 
(1 Samuel 1: 28).

Mary and Hannah are spiritual warriors and winners.  Let us savor the Responsorial Psalm of today's Liturgy taken from the Song of Hannah and be blessed by the word of God.

"My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior."

“My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.”

“The bows of the mighty are broken, while the tottering gird on strength. The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry batten on spoil.
The barren wife bears seven sons, while the mother of many languishes.”

“The LORD puts to death and gives life; he casts down to the nether world; he raises up again.
The LORD makes poor and makes rich, he humbles, he also exalts.”

“He raises the needy from the dust; from the dung heap he lifts up the poor, to seat them with nobles and make a glorious throne their heritage.”
(1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8).

"O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!"

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

The waiting is almost over.

"Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” 
(Luke 1: 45).

Our waiting is almost over. Four days to Christmas.  Advent is a Season for waiting. Joyful expectations which we know can never fail.  There are two certainties in our Christian experience:  Christmas and the Eucharist.  There must always be Christmas.  There must be the Eucharist every day, everywhere.  Fresh loaf from the Baker waiting for you. Thank You Father for your mercies and faithfulness.

Today is the feast of St Peter Canisius (1521 - 1597), priest and Doctor of the Church.  Peter Canisius of the Society of Jesus was a renowned teacher, author and catechist.  He was a very gentle apologist.  I ask for his Intercession every day.

"O God, who for the defence of the Catholic faith made the Priest Saint Peter Canisius strong in virtue and in learning,
grant, through his intercession,
that those who seek the truth
may joyfully find you, their God,
and that your faithful people
may persevere in confessing you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."  (Collect in the feast of St Peter Canisius).
St Peter Canisius pray for us.

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Virgin shall give birth to Emmanuel.

"The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."  (Isaiah 7: 14).

What do we know about the true and full identity of the Emmanuel?

"He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,  and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  (Luke 1: 32 - 33).

Emmanuel is Son of God.
He has a throne. Therefore He is King.
He will rule over the House of Jacob forever.
His Kingdom (the House of Jacob) will last forever.

We know that Jesus had magnificent obsession for the theme of the Kingdom. The Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary reveals some of the characteristics of this mysterious Kingdom. The new born King will be radically different from our ideas of kingship.  He will be born of a poor virgin girl from Nazareth in a stable. Before He was two, He will be running for His life to Egypt as a refugee.  His public ministry will be no different from the lowliness of His childhood.

What is the ultimate lesson in this sketch of Jesus?  The Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus of the Church can only be apprehended through faith. The shepherds, the Magi, Simeon and Anna, the Centurion, the Good Thief, etc all have something in common. They looked beyond the physical appearance and material circumstances of Jesus to see Jesus, the Son of God.  Christmas gives us the opportunity to examine our faith.
Do you have absolute confidence in the promises of God?  Then you are ready to meet the Real Jesus at Christmas.

"Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory."  (Psalm 24: 7, 10).

"O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!"

"Nothing will be impossible for God.”  (Luke 1: 37).

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

God's promises never fail.

"[Zechariah and Elizabeth] had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years."  (Luke 1: 7).

Zechariah and Elizabeth are the elderly parents of John the Baptist.  We meet in this family three important characters in the story of salvation.

"[John] will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb." (Luke 1: 15). His mission is "to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1: 17).

We learn a couple of lessons from the conception and birth of John.

The Angel Gabriel gives the good news to Zechariah in the Sanctuary and not to Elizabeth as is the case with the mother of Samson in our first Reading today. (Judges 13: 2-7, 24 - 25). Nor with Mary who received the message of the Incarnation directly from Gabriel.

“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John."  (Luke 1: 13).
Zechariah demurred at such a staggering development and merited a divine reproach. Fortunately, God never cancels His gift or His call. Such is His faithfulness and mercy.

"After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,  “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”  (Luke 1: 24 - 25).

God’s promises never fail.  It will be performed when and how it pleases Him.

O root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people: Come to save us without delay!

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Who is Joseph?

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her."  (Matthew 1: 20).

Today's Gospel presents us an opportunity to look at St Joseph, the man chosen by God to be the foster father and guardian of Jesus.  God communicates with us through a variety of ways, viz:
#1. Inspiration
#2. Locution
#3. Sacred Scripture
#4.  Prophetic person /message
#5.  Dream

St Joseph is a man of dreams.  Matthew recorded 4 Dreams of Joseph in the Infancy Narrative:
1. Matthew 1: 24
2. Matthew 2: 13
3. Matthew 2: 19
4. Matthew 2:  22

"When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home."  (Matthew 1: 24).
Joseph is a very docile man. Who does not love the spontaneously obedient child or student?

Joseph is a very just and considerate man.  Consider what he did faced with the evidence that Mary was carrying a child not his own:
"Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly."  (Matthew 1:  19).

Joseph is a man of high purity and chastity. God chose him to be the husband of Mary because God had fitted him with the appropriate graces to protect the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Joseph the humble carpenter is the patron saint of workers.  He understands that genuine labor is collaborating with God where, what and when you are assigned.

Joseph is so fittingly named the Patron of the Universal Church.  Remember that he was the Guardian of Jesus and in his intercessory role, you can believe that Jesus will deny nothing to Joseph.

One week today: Christmas Eve!

"O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!"

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

What can we learn from the Genealogy of Jesus Christ?

"The Genealogy of Jesus. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham........
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 1, 16).

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David is the plan built on rock, the rock of God's unalterable faithfulness to redeem mankind.  The record of the ancestry of Jesus shows us who God is and how He works in history.

Some years ago, I had weekly discussions with three young Mormon missionaries.  I asked them why they think the world needs a Mormon Church when the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ Himself has been there from the beginning of the new age. "The Church apostasied. Emperor Constantine led the Church astray. So God decided to start all over."  Really? I asked.  Then what is the meaning of the Genealogy? At this point, I asked one of the young men to read the Genealogy in Matthew 1.  I interrupted to point out scores of deviant personalities:  murderer, thieves, prostitute, idol worshippers, etc.  Why did the Holy Spirit allow the Genealogy to end with  "Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah."  (Matthew 1: 1, 16).
They had no answer.
God had decreed that the Redeemer will come out of real humanity.

“The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11: 26 - 27).

"In respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarchs.  For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."  (Romans 11: 28 - 29).

Again: "The gift and the call of God are irrevocable." Amen!

The Church teaches that it will arrive at its perfection in the Escathon, the End of the age.  As we make our pilgrimage towards our home, the Church labors to grow in the fullness of truth and charity.  Each life committed to Christ hastens the Second Coming.

Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Be satisfied with your wages.

"The crowds asked John the Baptist, “What should we do?”
He said to some in reply:....
"Be satisfied with your wages.”  (Luke 3: 10, 14).

What you have here is Good News to rejoice your heart and bring you peace on the subject of money.  Let us try to unpack it by stepping aside and allow Scripture to speak.

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.”  Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my helper,
and I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

Do you trust that God will fully provide for you come what may? If you do, you should live in the truth below:

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."   (Philippians 4: 6 - 7).

The word of God has warnings for the lover of money:

"Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income."  (Ecclesiastes 5: 10 NIV).

What does it profit you to be a billionaire at the cost of losing eternal life?

"For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains." (1 Timothy 6: 10).

Because the Lord always provides for His own, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near." (Philippians 4: 4 - 5).

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Lead me. Guide me. Teach me.

"Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.  If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea."  (Isaiah 48: 17 - 18).

O Lord, my Redeemer and Savior, lead me, guide me and teach me.  I have wandered most of my life and learned nothing useful. Now I want to be docile to You.  I will bend my heart to your commandments. I desire your promised prosperity.
You promised that those who follow you will have the light of life.  Yes Lord, I will follow you.

You promised that those who delight in Your word will be like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. Whatever they do, prosper.  Lord God, I delight in Your word, let it be done to me according to Your word. Amen. Amen. Amen.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Some men are born great. Some achieve greatness.

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist." 
(Matthew 11: 11).

John the Baptist like the Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen from the womb and sanctified for his lofty ministry.  Son of the priest Zechariah and Elizabeth, John had a comfortable career lined up for him by inheritance.  He did not allow this to distract him from his predestined vocation:  "Prepare the way of the Lord."  Speaking of "distraction", why did John chose the lifestyle he embraced? He lived in the desert, cultivated his food, made his clothes, etc.  St John the Baptist saw his mission as unique and critical to the success of the Mission of the Redeemer.  For him, no compromise, no distraction would be tolerated.

As we head to the last two weeks of Advent, let us savor the consolation of the Scriptures from the first Reading today.

"I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel."  (Isaiah 41: 13 - 14).

Our gracious and merciful God kept this promise to John the Baptizer to the very end of his life.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

They will be my people.

"Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the Lord.  Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." (Zechariah 2: 14 - 16).

The Scripture above from the Prophet Zechariah seems made for the feast we celebrate today in the Church in the Americas:  Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.  The Blessed Virgin Mary was sent by her Son to evangelize the people of Mexico. She appeared to St Juan Diego in 1531.  From this encounter, several millions were baptized in a few years. The Mexicans renounced human sacrifice. They became evangelists of the faith all over S. America and the United States of America.

Incredible fulfillment of what Zechariah wrote:  "Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day. They will be my people, and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." (Zechariah 2: 14 - 16).

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City attracts millions of pilgrims yearly.  Pilgrimage to this Shrine is one of my wishlist. I have a consolation price however. I visited a replica of the Shrine in Port Arthur, Texas some years ago.  Two pictures from that visit  hang on my wall.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus."  (Luke 1: 30 - 31).

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Jesus rejoices over one repentant sinner.

"What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray..... And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."  (Matthew 18: 12 - 14).

Heaven rejoices over one repentant sinner.  In Heaven,  Every vote for Jesus counts.  Sadly, I did not figure this out.

Many years ago, I was asked to teach Young Adults Confirmation Class.  I prepared assiduously for it for a couple of months.  On the first day of class, I was excited.  Then the surprise.  There was just one candidate.  I engaged the young man for the the planned two hours.  I had taught the same class for some years. Why was I not told that there would be only one candidate.
To make a long story short, I told the director that I could not continue.

A couple of Sunday after this, a lady met me after Mass and said:  "I am Patrick's mother. I worked so hard to persuade my son to attend the Confirmation class. Now it is all for nothing."

Some time after this, I heard the reproach of the Master Himself from the Altar:  "In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven't strayed away!"  (Luke 15: 7).

I confessed my sin and promised Jesus that in future, I will teach just one person, minister to one person. If every vote counts for the politician, and every dollar for the merchant, one soul should count for me.

"Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated."  (Isaiah 40: 1).

Send Your Holy Spirit upon us O Lord to give us the courage to spread the Good News of Your burning love for us.  Amen.

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Sunday, December 09, 2018

As for you, your sins are forgiven.

“As for you, your sins are forgiven.”  (Luke 15: 20).

Before Jesus healed the paralytic man who was lowered from the roof, He forgave his sins.  The healing of the paralytic is part of the healing ministry of Jesus which we read in the first Reading today:

"Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.  (Isaiah 35: 5 - 6).

The Readings today are meant to prepare our hearts for Advent and the joys of Christmas.

"It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk."  (Isaiah 35: 9 - 10).

A good examination of conscience and Reconciliation can bring healing to our minds, souls and hopefully body and deliver peace and joy for Christmas and beyond.

"Hear the word of the Lord, O nations; declare it to the distant lands:
Behold, our Savior will come; you need no longer fear."  (Cf. Jeremiah 31: 10; Isaiah 35: 4).

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Saturday, December 08, 2018

Prepare your heart for the Lord.

"I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1: 6).

This Sunday, we reflect a bit on the profile of a true and faithful witness. This person was called to ministry before the foundation of the world, sanctified in the womb, preserved from the corruption of society and at the right moment paid the full price for his calling. His name is John the Baptist.  God who began a good work in John was faithful and brought it to a splendid completion.  May the ever faithful God bring the good work He started in you and me to an excellent completion.

"Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths"  (Luke 3: 4).

Brothers and sisters, this is the holy task laid before us this Advent.  Although today is the second Week of Advent, it is not too late to get on board.
How do you prepare the way of the Lord? Exactly the way you prepare yourself for the Coming of Jesus:  Increased prayer, more word of God, more Eucharist during the week.  Good examination of conscience and Reconciliation are of paramount importance.  A house that is untidy and smelly is a gross insult to the King of kings.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.
Those who go forth weeping,
carrying sacks of seed, will return with cries of joy,
carrying their bundled sheaves."  (Psalm 126: 5 - 6).
Those who prepare the way of the Lord by preparing their hearts will be surprised by the delights of the Lord and will sing:
"The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy." (Psalm 126: 2 - 3).

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Friday, December 07, 2018

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. (Ephesians 1: 3 - 4).

Mary was chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish as the Mother of the Son of God.
The Church all over the world rejoice with Mary on the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception, today December 8th.

When the Archangel Gabriel told Mary the astonishing news of the Incarnation, she said:  “How can this be..... And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you... "  (Luke 1: 34 - 35).  No problem said Gabriel. The Holy Spirit will do the job.  I will like to remember this whenever God is asking me to do what I consider impossible.  God also hastened to reassure Mary and strengthen her faith:

"Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;  for nothing will be impossible for God.”  (Luke 1: 36 - 37).

Do you notice:  "nothing will be impossible for God?” This is a word of God we should never forget.

I like Mary's humble response:  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”   (Luke 1: 38).

Let us join the Choir of Heaven and  "Sing a new song to the Lord, for he has done marvelous deeds" for us in Mary. (Psalm 98: 1).

Our God has indeed done great things for Mary.
"He has clothed her with a robe of salvation, and wrapped her in a mantle of righteousness, like a bride adorned with her jewels."  (Cf Isaiah 61: 10).

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Thursday, December 06, 2018

Lord increase our faith.

"On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a scroll; And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.  The lowly shall again find joy in the Lord, the poorest rejoice in the Holy One of Israel."  (Isaiah 29: 18 -19).

This is a fitting Scripture to honor the life of a big man whose feast we celebrate today:  St Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (337 - 397). The Lord filled St Ambrose with the spirit of wisdom and understanding and clothed him in a robe of glory. St Ambrose used his immense talent to shine the light of Christ on many souls. One of these souls is St Augustine whose mother, St Monica convinced to meet St Ambrose. The rest is history so to speak.

"And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!”  (Matthew 9: 27).
Never forget that man's necessity is God's opportunity. These two blind men who have hanged out together for some time probably discussed what it would be like to meet this Jesus. Then without warning, it happened.

“Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him."  (Matthew 9: 28).
Sometimes the Lord gives this little test. These two blind friends were ready with the answer.

"Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”  (Matthew 9: 29).

Note carefully what Jesus said to them: “Let it be done for you according to your faith.”
An Advent prayer intention could be:  Lord increase my faith.

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Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

December 7th, 2018  -  First Friday in December.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 12th and last month of the year 2018, we look at Promise #12.

#12. "The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour."

Friends, this is a tremendous promise. Let us thank our Lord Jesus Christ for such a generous offer.  I was once close to death.  My priest came and brought the healing Presence of Jesus in the Last Sacraments.  Whenever I think of Promise #12, I remember that awesome occasion and privilege.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

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Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Where and how do you build your family home?

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock."  (Matthew 7: 24 - 25).

Any architect, building contractor, surveyor would hail the above divine word as absolute truth and common sense.  When I visited a small town near Corpus Christi after a huge hurricane, I realized that common sense is not so common.  There are still many who built their houses on "sand" and expect them to survive hurricanes and cyclones.  The real point of the teaching of Jesus today is about the choices we make that affect our eternal destiny.  In today's Mass Readings, there are no shortage of good advice to help us. Let us sample a few:

"It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes." (Psalm 118:  8 - 9).

"A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you.”  (Isaiah 26:  3).
You can substitute man or woman.

"Trust in the LORD forever!
For the LORD is an eternal Rock."  (Isaiah 26: 4).
When you build your life on the Rock that is Jesus, your life will be safe, solid and secure.

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call him while he is near." (Isaiah 55: 6).
That means Today. You are not guaranteed Tomorrow.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." 
(Matthew 7: 21).
God does not deceive any person and He cannot be deceived. Don't even try it!

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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

What will the Lord provide on this Mountain?

"On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines."  (Isaiah 25: 6).

We see spectacular promises of what awaits us in the New Heaven and the New Earth which in the Gospel is understood as the Kingdom of God in its fullness. The Mountain of the Lord of Hosts will provide rich food and choice wines to the guests.  But there is more:

"He will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken."  (Isaiah 25: 8).

On the Mountain in today's Gospel, Jesus cured the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. (Matthew 15: 30).  Signs pointing to the Messianic Kingdom.

"On the same Mountain, "[Jesus] took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full."  (Matthew 15: 37).  One more Messianic Sign.

The rich food and choice wines of Isaiah and the baskets of bread and fish are types of the Eucharist which will provide sufficient and super satisfying nourishment in the Kingdom of God.

Does this vision seem unrealistic? Not at all! God will fulfill all His promises as Isaiah declared below:

"On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain."  (Isaiah 25:  9 - 10).

Trust in God forever!

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Monday, December 03, 2018

It is the Father's gracious will to give you a magnificent Kingdom.

"Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike." (Luke 10: 21).

Abba Father has revealed the mysteries of the Kingdom to the childlike. What are these mysteries?  Since Jesus spoke incessantly about the Kingdom of God in His public ministry, may be these mysteries have to do with the inner workings of the Kingdom.

What do we know about the Kingdom?  The Kingdom is already here and now. The seed of the Kingdom is in the Church.  Jesus Christ is the King of the Universe and we know His Kingdom is everlasting.  Citizens of that Kingdom will be anointed by the Spirit of the LORD: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and all shall delight in the fear of the Lord.

We know too that in that Kingdom, there will be no death, sickness, wars, hunger, any type of weather catastrophes, etc.  Isaiah captures the perfect peace and serenity that will permeate life in the future Kingdom in these verses:

"Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall graze, together their young shall lie down; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the viper’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
(Isaiah 11: 6 - 10).

When you pray "Thy Kingdom Come!" you understand that
Yes, it is the Father's  gracious will to give us such a wonderful Kingdom.  (Cf Luke 10: 21).

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Sunday, December 02, 2018

Go preach the Gospel to all the World.

"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you."  (John 15: 16).

Today is the feast of St Francis Xavier (1506 - 1552). St Ignatius Loyola founded the Society of Jesus with St Francis Xavier.  Francis heard Jesus calling him through St Ignatius and appointing him to go and bear fruit that will last through St Ignatius. His response to Jesus was most generous.

"I will bear witness to You in the world O Lord.  I will spread the knowledge of Your name among my brothers and sisters.  (Psalm 17: 50 ; 21:23 RM).

St Francis traveled to India, Japan and China out of longing for the salvation of souls.  He converted hundreds of thousands of people to Jesus.

Jesus is still calling today:  “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." 
(Mark 16: 15).

The Internet and smartphone have made it easy today for everyone to respond to the call of Jesus from your home, work, bus, train, plane. In the park, grocery stores, restaurants, etc.

If you do not create contents like blogs or articles, you can distribute contents. How? You receive a daily scripture verse, you share it with friends, family or co-workers via text, email or Facebook or any of the Social media.  Imagine if your friend shares the same scripture verse with one friend.  In 365 days, you may have enabled over 1000 people to read Scripture and become Internet missionaries.  It is not difficult at all. All you need is to say Yes to Jesus.

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Saturday, December 01, 2018

Enter into the spirit of Advent with hope.

"The days are coming—oracle of the Lord—when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah."  Jeremiah 33: 14).

As Advent begins today, let us give some thought to the concept of Waiting and God's Faithfulness.  What have you waited for in your life?  What are you waiting for now?   Use the Scripture from Lamentations below to enter into the spirit of Advent.

"The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning — great is your faithfulness! The Lord is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him.

The Lord is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him; It is good to hope in silence for the Lord’s deliverance." 
(Lamentations 3: 22 - 26).

To hope in the Lord is to wait for the Lord.

I hope your heart will be warmed by the truth that God fulfills His promises in the fullness of time.

As we wait with expectant faith for God to fulfill His promises to us, we do well to take note of obstacles and barriers that may stand in our way.

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

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Friday, November 30, 2018

What are your plans for Advent?

"Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."  (Luke 21: 34).

Today is the last day before Advent, the beginning of the New Year of the Church.  What is the above Scripture saying to me?  Be careful not to spend the next four weeks before Christmas like the Unredeemed. Parties, shopping, games, etc.  If you do, you will miss out on a lot of graces that Jesus Christ has prepared for you this Advent.

You ask: What should I do?

"Be vigilant that you may have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent." 
(Luke 21: 34 - 36).

"Be vigilant" means: Be alert and watchful through prayer, worship, songs and praises like someone waiting for the arrival of a very important guest.

"Marana tha! Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22: 20).

“These words are trustworthy and true, and the Lord, the God of prophetic spirits, sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.”  (Revelation 22: 6 - 7).

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Go bring someone to Jesus.

"Beside the Sea of Galilee,
the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he said to them: Come after me and I will make you fishers of men."  (Cf. Matthew 4: 18-19).

Today is the feast of St Andrew the Apostle.  One of his biographers describes St Andrew thus:
"Andrew went through life leading people to Jesus, both before and after the Crucifixion."  This is the ultimate accolade.  Sacred Scripture puts it this way:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!”  (Romans 10: 15).

Indeed!
“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” 
(Romans 10: 18).

Jesus may be calling you today to be an Evangelist. Andrew, Simon Peter and the rest of the Apostles have sown the seed. It is up to us to finish the harvesting:

"And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10: 14 - 15).

Go bring your brother, cousin, neighbor, friend, colleague to Jesus as Andrew did:
"Andrew told his brother Simon: We have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus."  (Cf. John 1: 41-42).

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb is the Eucharist.

"Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”
(Revelation 19: 9).

3 days to go before the beginning of Advent.  The Readings are frightful, urgent and escathological, pointing us to the end of the world. In the midst of the grim scenario, we receive a blessing and a hope:
"Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.”

The wedding feast of the Lamb is understood by Church militants here on earth as the Eucharist.  We come to this feast by summons or invitation.  Those who receive the invitation of the King to the Eucharist and turn it down with scorn will miss the blessings pronounced in Revelation 19: 9.

Those who cling to deceitful attractions and distractions of the world are warned of what will happen to their beloved kingdom:

“Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.  She has become a haunt for demons.  She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird, a cage for every unclean and disgusting beast.”  (Revelation 18: 2).

What do you think of this warning of Jesus?
"Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."  (Cf Luke 21:20-28).

The Redeemed marked by the sign of the Lamb are encouraged to:
"Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy. Know that he, the Lord, is God. He made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the sheep of his flock."

Advent is the Season of expectation, praise and singing. Let us not hold back. Our Redeemer is coming.  He will redeem us from these dire predictions.

"O praise the Lord, all you nations, for his merciful love towards us is great.  (Psalm 117: 1, 2).

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